Writing in Math Is Vital for Teachers and Their Students
To develop mathematical thinking, students need to discuss ideas and concepts. The best way to gain understanding is to evaluate theories verbally and make arguments.
Every teacher must create a productive classroom environment, where discussions and communication are valued above everything else. Talking and writing about math is a perfect practice because mathematical thoughts and ideas need to be formulated both in essay writing and speech.
The common belief about math is that this science is all about numbers and formulas. However, this is not so. Unfortunately, only a few students have a skill in mathematical thinking, even though they are able to solve tasks and problems. They need to progress in thinking while their mathematical knowledge grows. Teachers should help learners build math writing skills during their college years. This necessity is obvious – math improves our thinking habits in general. It implements specific standards like precise communication, constructive arguments, and the ability to understand and use symbolic language.
Communication as a vital level of math education
We communicate when we share thoughts and explain concepts. With the help of communication, ideas are reflected, discussed, and refined. A lack of math-related communication makes students fail to understand the essence of this science.
As linguists say, language is a construction or a model that allows us to understand the world. Obviously, communication is possible when two or more people share the same language. When it comes to math language, it is hard to deny that it is pretty complicated. It is highly-contextual, abstract, and specific. Math can be discussed formally and informally by students. However, the problem arises when the difference between teachers’ and students’ language becomes obvious. Even when teachers and students use the same words, the meaning of these words may not coincide.
Why students have problems with memorizing the concepts? Why math seems so complicated for the majority of them? Is math that hard? Or maybe the way teachers explain it doesn’t make any sense for learners?
Most experienced educators agree that communication is the key to math learning. They try to motivate, engage, and involve students in problem-solving and reasoning. That is why they encourage youngsters to express their thoughts and ideas to help them see the crucial math connections and patterns. While math problems are significant for understanding, this science as a whole is about sharing and showing experience.
To represent an idea means to create and use language and other means of communication to record, organize, and share ideas. When applying this method to math, students can write and verbalize their understanding in a more productive environment.
When representations are visual, students grasp the abstract thoughts and connections between them easier. Abstract concepts become more concrete when implemented in words and illustrations. Graphics and other visuals boost understanding and memorizing because our brain is more sensitive for pictures.
However, records are no less efficient than visuals. When lecturers motivate students to write about math and share their thoughts with others, it is a great chance to comprehend both – the math concepts and mechanics of writing. The motivational point here is obvious: if students grasp that they are perceived as writers, they become more enthusiastic when producing content.
Proof and reasoning
Communicational abilities are crucial to produce and evaluate mathematical proof and reasoning. Mathematicians know that proof is about central ideas. Students – don’t. They need to see how math ideas and concepts interconnect and work as one whole. Not only they need to track their own way of mathematical thinking, but they also analyze and understand the opinions of other people.
Young and adult students have problems with producing proof. However, most of them have a lack of understanding of the concept. They don’t really know what proof is. To understand that better, learners are expected to apply math principles outside this science. Teachers should encourage them to apply logical principles when they make plans, decide how to formulate their thoughts, and behave. Allowing these principles to expand, students understand the value of connections, comparisons, and clarity.
Most students feel bored when they have to read and memorize structured proofs with numerous details. They want to grasp the whole picture fast and move on. They have difficulties with variables and their meanings because they lack interest and attention. That is why applying these variables to their routine solutions is an effective method to help students boost understanding. Using symbolic language in everyday life makes math its part.
We reason when we identify and analyze patterns, stereotype relationships, regularities, and connections. Evaluating them, we construct arguments and develop a mathematical way of thinking and understanding. This is the minds’ thinking habits in general, and math can make them more sophisticated.
Writing and problem-solving
Writing helps us to arrange our thought and get insights. We share ideas, provide conclusions, and find alternative solutions when we write something. Content is less important than the process of formulating and studying. Math writing is pretty much the same – we record ideas, explain solutions and strategies, and improve our problem-solving skills.
Learners should grasp the specific vocabulary that is important for math proficiency. When writing, learners can think about the definitions, put them in their own words, and learn how to use these words correctly.
When students are limited to textbook language only, they lack a necessity to produce content and reflect on their own thinking and understanding. Not only textbooks rarely “speak” their language, but also they limit their capacities. As a result, learning becomes mechanical and lifeless. Students stay focused on memorizing, but this leads to a failure in most cases – math is not about memorizing and repeating, but understating and experiencing. Becoming active thinkers and writers, learners can experience math from within, which is a great way to see its beauty, get involved, and understand this science better.